Next Up: Wide Sargasso Sea
Wide Sargasso Sea is a postcolonial novel written by Jean Rhys as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
The story follows Antoinnette Cosway (Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre) from her younger years in the Caribbean, to marrying Mr. Rochester, to her relocation to an attic in England. If you’ve read Jane Eyre, you know her as the “madwoman in the attic,” but Wide Sargasso Sea shows her as a healthy young woman who is living in an oppressive and patriarchal society.
This novel appears to be a nice break from the heaviness of Under The Volcano, plus it’s much shorter, so I’m looking forward to it.
Some quick facts about Wide Sargasso Sea and Jean Rhys:
- Published in 1966, 27 years after Rhys’ previous novel, Good Morning, Midnight.
- The novel opens right after the 1833 emancipation of slaves in British-owned, Jamaica.
- In addition to appearing on the Time list, Wide Sargasso Sea was ranked #94 in the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels.
- The novel won the Booker Prize for 1966 and the W.H. Smith Literary Award in 1967.
- The book has been adapted for film, opera, and television.
- Stevie Nicks wrote a song (“Wide Sargasso Sea”) about the book. It appeared in her 2011 album In Your Dreams.
- Jean Rhys, born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, was born in Dominica. She passed away in 1979 at the age of 89.
That’s a lot of info about a novel that’s less than 200 pages.
Any thoughts about Wide Sargasso Sea and how it compares to Jane Eyre?